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Hancock County, Illinois Biographies

William C. Cecil, M. D. A really successful merchant, doctor, lawyer or farmer is the man who enjoys a just and adequate compensation for important service rendered in his particular field. It is that kind of success which is enjoyed by Dr. William C. Cecil of Stark, Kansas. He was the pioneer doctor in that community and for thirty years has given his services to rich and poor, and especially in the early days at the cost of much physical hardship to himself.

Doctor Cecil is descended from a notable American family. There is a county back in Maryland named Cecil, and his ancestors furnished that name. The Cecils were originally English people, and a branch of them came over to Maryland at the time of Lord Baltimore, the founder of the colony. Doctor Cecil's grandfather, William Cecil, was born in Cecil County, Maryland, moved from there to North Carolina, and died about 1828 when his son Reuben was six months old. This Grandfather Cecil at one time owned a distillery in North Carolina.

Reuben Cecil, father of Doctor Cecil, was born in North Carolina in 1828. His early years were spent near High Point, North Carolina, and at the age of twenty he came west and found a home in Hancock County, Illinois. He was married there, and for many years followed the trade of blacksmith, and was a citizen of much influence in the community. He held the offices of township clerk and township treasurer and nearly all the other local responsibilities. He was one of the leaders in the United Brethren Church in that county. Though coming from the South he was a pronounced Union man, and in 1864, though nearly past military age, he enlisted for service in the Forty seventh Illinois Infantry and remained in the army until the close of hostilities. He participated with Sherman on the glorious march to the sea. After the war he returned to Illinois and died at Plymouth, that state, in 1906. Reuben Cecil married Frances Fortner. She was born in 1830, and died at Colchester, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1911. Reuben Cecil and wife had nine children. Henry A., the oldest, who was a farmer and died in McDonough County, Illinois, enlisted when very young in 1861 in the Seventy-second Illinois Infantry and served throughout the war, participating in thirty odd battles, was once wounded, and was with Sherman in the Atlanta campaign and march to the sea, had served with Grant at Shiloh and Vicksburg, and made an enviable record as a fighting soldier. Margaret, the next in age, died in Hancock County, Illinois, the wife of Wilburn Melton, who is now a farmer at Creeksville, Missouri. The third in age is Doctor Cecil. Thomas L. is a carpenter and contractor at Bazine, Kansas. Sarah married Dr. V. P. Stocky, a physician and surgeon at Colchester, Illinois. Louisa Jane is the wife of William Shanks, a farmer in Wisconsin. A. W. Cecil is a hardware merchant at Elmwood, Kansas. Perry is a truck gardener at Mannette, State of Washington. Ella is the wife of Grant Jeffreys, a farmer and rancher in Nebraska.

Dr. William C. Cecil was born at Plymouth, Hancock County, Illinois, November 15, 1850. Most of his early education was acquired in the public schools of McDonough County, Illinois, and the first twenty years of his life were spent on his father's farm. He has had a great variety of experience, including three years of practical farming in Hancock County. While farming he took up the study of medicine, and afterwards attended lectures in the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati, where he was awarded his degree Doctor of Medicine in 1875. He at once began private practice, but in 1878 returned to his alma mater for post-graduate work, specializing in diseases of women and children.

His first practice was done at Basco in Hancock County, Illinois. In 1879 he removed to Kansas, and was in practice at Morrill in Brown County, until 1888. Since that year, almost thirty years ago, Doctor Cecil has served the community at Stark, where he was the first permanent physician, and where he has always enjoyed a large medical and surgical practice. He owns his office building on Main Street, also his home in the south part of town, and has ten acres of land just outside the corporate limits where he indulges his fancy as a small farmer.

Doctor Cecil has been too busy with his professional interests to permit the intrusion of politics. However, while in Brown County he served on the school board and is a republican voter. He is a member of the County and State Medical societies, and belongs to Virginia Lodge No. 315. Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Savonburg, Kansas, and is a member of Fort Scott Consistory No. 4, of the Scottish Rite body.
Doctor Cecil has been twice married. In 1868 in Hancock County, Illinois, he married Miss Sarah E. Robinson. They shared their joys and sorrows together for thirty-six years, until her death at Stark, Kansas, in 1904. On May 15, 1912, at Erie, Kansas, Doctor Cecil married Miss Nell Rumbeck, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Rumbeck, who are farming people in Allen County, Kansas. By his first marriage Doctor Cecil had three children. Lena, who died at the age of thirty-five in 1904, married Charles Barnes, who is also deceased and who was a railroad telegraph operator and station agent. The two sons are both railroad men. Ralph is a conductor for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway, living at Parsons, and Hugh who lives at Stark, is also connected with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas.  
[Source: A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, By William Elsey Connelley, Published by Lewis, 1918 -- Submitted by K. T.]

Dr. Wm. C. Cecil, the oldest practicing physician in Stark, Neosho county (KS), is numbered among the eastern men of the craft who cast their lot with Kansas during the "era of settlement," just before 1880, and has consequently been one of its citizens for twenty-two years. In October, 1879, he located in Merrill, Brown county, where he early took a leading position as a  successful physician and skillful surgeon. The suddenness with which he built up a practice was a surprise and an astonishment to the old established of the profession and so long as he remained in northern Kansas he was one of the best known doctors in Brown county.
Our subject was born in Hancock county, Illinois, November 5, 1850. He came to manhood's estate upon a farm in McDonough county, that state, and acquired his education in the common schools. At twenty years of age he left the parental roof, temporarily, to prepare for the business of life. He chose medicine for his calling and, as a preliminary to his college course, read with Dr. W. D. Wade, of Plymouth, Illinois. He took lectures in the Eclectic Medical College, of Cincinnati, and graduated in that institution in 1875. His first location for practice was at Basco, Illinois, where the task of building up a creditable practice was easily accomplished. He continued his residence at this point till the year he came to Kansas. Fresh from college and with the prestige of four years successful practice rendered it only a matter of a short period when he should possess an enviable position in the professional world in his new location. In 1888 he made his third and final location, in the little new town of Stark on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad. His rank here is second to none of his cotemporaries and he enjoys the full confidence of a wide circle of friends in Neosho and adjoining counties. He is a gentleman of business sense, with high regard for the ethics of the profession, and with friendly and pleasing address. The position of pension examiner has been twice tendered him but his duty to his patrons made it necessary for him to refuse the offer.
At the age of fourteen years Dr. Cecil acquired a desire to enter the volunteer army and made one or more ineffectual attempts to do so, being balked by parental blockade. Finally he took the matter into his own hands and "ran away," enlisting January 4, 1865, in the 148th Illinois infantry, Company H. He was sent to Tennessee where his company did guard duty at Chattanooga and other points till the close of hostilities. In May, 1865, he was discharged from the service and is believed to be now the youngest "old soldier" in the state of Kansas. Doctor Cecil's father served one year in Company K, 47th Illinois volunteers and his older brother, Henry A. Cecil, saw hard service for four years in Company G, 72nd Illinois regiment.
The subject of this review is a son of Reuben Cecil and Frances (Fortner) Cecil, the former twain being natives of North Carolina, and being married in Illinois. Mr. Cecil, Sr., went into the Prairie State in an early day and reared his family in Hancock and McDonough counties. Dr. W. C. Cecil was his fourth child. The latter married Miss Sarah E. Robinson in 1868 in Hancock county, Illinois, and has reared three children, a daughter and two sons, the former being Lena, wife of C. H. Burris, of Kincaid, Kansas, and the latter two being Ralph and Hugh Cecil who are still under the parental roof. [Source: History of Neosho and Wilson Counties, Kansas, Pub. by L. Wallace Duncan, Fort Scott, Kansas, Monitor Printing Co., 1902; transcribed by VB]


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